The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Thursday, March 31, 2005
Kristol Takes A Pie

I've always thought that the folks at Democratic Underground were, in general, a sorry, sad, and stupid lot. But, I go through there every once in a while to see a) what people on the other side are saying, and b) whether I should change my mind.

Recently, the DU types have taken glee at Bill Kristol being hit in the face with a pie while giving a talk at Earlham College in Indiana:


Naturally, the DU glee at this stunt is rather misplaced. For those who look at the story behind the picture, Kristol comes across as a cool, unflappable person (via Palladium-Item):

Neoconservative journalist and commentator William Kristol was about 30 minutes into his speech on international affairs when a slender young man crossed the stage of Goddard Auditorium and slung the ersatz pastry into his face.

Kristol appeared momentarily stunned, then wiped the brown and white goo from his eyes with a paper towel, stepped back to the podium and said, "Let me just finish this point."

Members of both sides of the political spectrum in the overflow audience rose to applaud.

Kristol, a political activist and co-founder of The Weekly Standard, had been invited to speak by Earlham President Doug Bennett as part of an effort to introduce a variety of viewpoints on the campus.

Kristol's support of the Bush administration's foreign policy was seen as a counterbalance for the prevalent liberal views on the local campus.

[ . . . ]

Shouts of "shame on you" came from the audience before the attacker was out of earshot.

[ . . . ]

Bennett invited Kristol to the speak at the behest of a group called DIALOGUE -- Diverse Individuals Actively Listening to Others for Greater Understanding and Education.

First-year student Molly Mitchell-Olds, one of the leaders of DIALOGUE, said, "We're ashamed of what happened here tonight. It in no way represents Earlham."

Of Kristol's aplomb after the incident, Mitchell-Olds said, "I have a lot of respect for him."

Her attitude seemed to be reflective of the general reaction from the audience. First-year student David DeGrasse prefaced a question to Kristol by saying, "I'd like to personally apologize for what happened."

[ . . . ]

The pie attack turned much of the conversation after the attack from foreign policy to civility.

One person in the post-speech gathering at the stage asked Kristol, "What about free speech?" With a twinkle in his eye, Kristol said he wasn't sure a cream pie constituted free speech.

It does constitute a problem. Bennett's wife Ellen lamented, "I just hope we can save the suit."

DU's glee is somewhat misplaced. Physical assaults on those who disagree with you hardly wins friends, and indeed, weakens their position in front of even those inclined to agree with them.

I think the Earlham students responded remarkably civilly. Odds are that if this happened around here, the reaction would be more akin to that expressed in DU. What DU types don't realize is that this sort of childish incident is counterproductive to convincing others to their cause.

And I still haven't had cause to change my mind about Democratic Underground.


Posted 12:39 PM by Tony

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Whose Right?

The Washington Post highlights an interesting tension between patients and pharmacists:

Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

The trend has opened a new front in the nation's battle over reproductive rights, sparking an intense debate over the competing rights of pharmacists to refuse to participate in something they consider repugnant and a woman's right to get medications her doctor has prescribed. It has also triggered pitched political battles in statehouses across the nation as politicians seek to pass laws either to protect pharmacists from being penalized -- or force them to carry out their duties.

[ . . . ]

"This is another indication of the current political atmosphere and climate," said Rachel Laser of the National Women's Law Center in Washington. "It's outrageous. It's sex discrimination. It prevents access to a basic form of health care for women. We're going back in time."

[ . . . ]

"What is a woman supposed to do in rural America, in places where there may only be one pharmacy?" asked Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is launching a campaign today to counter the trend. "It's a slap in the face to women."

This is a pretty complex issue, and the reflexive rhetoric of "We're going back in time," and "slap in the face to women" by absolutists is hardly constructive.

Let me be up front here - I think that abortion is morally repugnant, but am heartily in favor of contraceptive birth control for those who would use it. That said, it really all boils down to a conflict between fundamental rights - should one take priority over the other?

Women seeking birth control have the right to do so, as it stems from a personal choice to avoid pregnancy. However, they should not be able to trample over over personal choices that are just as deeply held, simply because it implicates "choice," and not "religion." NARAL's "choice" is a "slap in the face" to pharmacists, when the organization would arguably require them to violate their own moral codes. Neither "choice" and "religious values" take precedence over the other - indeed, governmental regulation that touches on either value is held to pretty much the same level of "strict scrutiny." Put more simply, the exercise of your rights cannot infringe on the exercise of mine.

So what's the optimum, or at least, least objectionable solution? Remember, when we're talking "rights," we're generally talking about something protected from government regulation, not from the effects of private action.

I think I agree with the approach taken by chains like Walgreens. Pharmacists may refuse to fill morally objectionable prescriptions, but should not be able to refuse to transfer prescriptions. It seems to me that the prescription belongs to the customer, not the pharmacist.

Now, the Post notes that "[w]omen's advocates say such policies are impractical, especially late at night in emergency situations involving the morning-after pill, which must be taken within 72 hours." So what if it's impractical? "Impractical" is a rationale that hardly meets the justification necessary to impinge on fundamental rights.

The graphic accompanying the story shows that California is considering legislation to require pharmacists to fill prescriptions. How this can be done without violation either the state or federal constitution is beyond me.


Posted 8:40 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
This Post Brought To You By The Word "Maladroit"

I'm no big fan of ROK president Roh Moo-hyun, as most of you know. Here's Exhibit number I've-lost-track-by-now:

Saturdasy, March 19 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits US forces in Korea (via CNN; see also UK Guardian):

On Saturday, Rice became the most senior American official to tour a command center for U.S. and South Korean troops that would be the battle headquarters in the event of fighting with the communist North.

"I know that you face a close-in threat every day," Rice told troops at Command Post Tango, or Theater Air Naval Ground Operations, late Saturday.

Rice's visit coincided with a twice-yearly war exercise involving thousands of American and South Korean soldiers. When Rice got a look at the command center, it also was the first time that reporters and cameras were allowed into the bunker south of Seoul.

Sunday, March 20 - Rice visits Roh, who asks the United States for help in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue (via Blue House):

President Roh welcomed Secretary of State Rice and called on her, as the top American diplomat, to help achieve substantive results in handling the North Korean nuclear issue. He said that the Korean Government would extend close cooperation. Secretary Rice expressed thanks for the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq and said that the two countries have been closely cooperating not only on bilateral issues but also regional and international matters of concern.

Later that day, Rice, at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Ban (via Noticias)*:

[Minister Ban:] Secretary Rice and I agreed to continue to consult closely on issues of mutual interest, including the North Korean nuclear issue. Over luncheon, we will be further discussing other matters of mutual interest, such as the pending issues related to our alliance. Thank you.

[ . . . ]

[Secretary Rice, asked about Dokdo:] Well, first of all, the United States first made known publicly that we intended to support Japan for a permanent seat in the Security Council last August. It was made public by Secretary Powell. And we have also said that we support Security Council reform in the context of broader United Nations reform. And we are at the beginning of that process, not at the end of it.

Our view is that we have good relations with our democratic ally here in the Republic of Korea. Let me make this clear: we have good relations of the Republic of Korea, which is democratic. And we have good relations with Japan, which is also a democratic ally.

Because we -- the United States -- have been able to maintain those relationships, because we have maintained military alliances in the region, because we have strong economic commerce in this region and have for several decades, this region has been able to develop into one which is prosperous and one in which strong democracies are now present.

I said also in Japan that the 21st century will be different than in the past, when power will be defined in terms of the power of ideas, and we with the Republic of Korea, also with Japan, are pursuing the power of the ideal of freedom, and we are doing it globally.

Tuesday March 22 - Roh addresses graduating military cadets (via Korea Times):

In what may be an apparent shift in policy, President Roh Moo-hyun has indicated that the nation would no longer be locked into its alliance with the United States and Japan.

Roh is seeking to maintain closer relations with China instead of sticking to the trilateral alliance in a bid to more efficiently cope with the changing security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula, government sources said.

"We will play a `balancing role’ to help ensure peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and on the Korean Peninsula," Roh said in his speech delivered at a commencement ceremony of the Korea Third Military Academy Tuesday.

Smoooooth. Is Roh purposely trying to antagonize the Bush Administration, whose help he desires?

-----
* Rice also addressed the European Union's efforts to lift an arms embargo placed on China after Tianenmen Square: "And that the European Union should do nothing to contribute to a circumstance in which Chinese military modernization draws on European technology or even the political decision to suggest that it could draw on European technology when, in fact, it is the United States -- not Europe -- that has defended the Pacific." I was going to say something really sarcastic about whose side the EU is actually on, but you get the idea.


Posted 6:19 PM by Tony


Missed Connections

Sometimes, the news just makes me laugh.

According to CNN, a company has beamed thousands of postings from Craigslist.org* into space:

On March 11, a company called Deep Space Communications Network beamed the first commercial transmission of a Web site into space.

The message? Over one hundred thousand separate postings from craigslist.com, the popular community Web site that includes classified listings for jobs, housing and other goods. The transmission included a date and time stamp, as well as an audio track identifying the message as originating from Earth.

"It's very fitting that the first [commercial] transmission into space is by a community Web site like craiglist because it represents a wide cross section of society," said Jim Lewis, vice president of Deep Space Communications Network.

I always figured that many people in San Francisco were from outer space, practically, so it all seems to fit.

Craigslist also has a "Missed Connections" section, which is a great deal of fun to peruse. So, if there's an outer space alien looking for that cute brunette who was at Torrefazione Italia, he (it?) may be in luck...
-----
* Cragislist is a Bay Area institution, allowing people to put up free classifieds for just about everything. It's a bit of a shift, as people look to Craigslist instead of fee-based rental listings, and several old-style printed rental listings have faced financial difficulties, as a result. (I read this somewhere, but can't remember the source)


Posted 5:24 PM by Tony


Diversion For The Day

I may not have much in common with Oliver Willis, but he's on target concerning Jessica Alba. GQ has an article on Jessica Alba in the April issue, which makes for some interesting reading.

Oh yeah, and the pictures accompanying the article aren't half-bad, either:



Posted 5:18 PM by Tony

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
An Annual Congo Thing

It seems that every year, there's something about the UN's involvement in the Congo to grab the attention. Stuff like this really makes me wonder at the efficacy of UN "peacekeepers" (via SF Chronicle):

She's known in the community as a "one-dollar U.N. girl." At night, she sleeps on the cracked pavement outside a storefront. In the mornings, she sashays through the dusty streets, clutching a frayed parasol against the blinding sun.

[14 year old] Yvette and her friends are also called kidogo usharatis, Swahili for small prostitutes. They loiter outside the camps of U.N. peacekeepers, hoping to sell their bodies for a mug of milk, a cold soda or -- best of all -- a single dollar.

[ . . . ]

Yvette's story is not uncommon. The United Nations is investigating 150 instances in which 50 peacekeeping troops or civilians in the Congo mission are suspected of having sexually abused or exploited women and girls, some as young as 12.

Often, the victims were vulnerable, poverty-stricken girls engaged in what Congolese call "obligation" or "survival" sex. In this war-shattered society, aid workers and counselors said, a breakdown of cultural norms, combined with extreme poverty, have driven hundreds of kidogo usharatis to the soldiers' doorsteps.

Similar charges have been made about U.N. missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as Kosovo and Bosnia in Europe.

The United Nations is also investigating reports of rape or sexual assault in Congo, including one case in which a French logistics employee was found with hundreds of videotapes that showed him torturing and sexually abusing naked girls. Last week, U.N. officials announced they had fired one employee and suspended six others from among 17 civilian staff members being investigated in the Congo abuses.

And to think, people around here think that US troops are evil. Sheesh.


Posted 9:29 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 17, 2005
A Kinder Gentler VA

Here's a Medal of Honor citation for your consideration (via US Army MoH site):

For extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy. Then Second Lieutenant Baker demonstrated outstanding courage and leadership in destroying enemy installations, personnel and equipment during his company's attack against a strongly entrenched enemy in mountainous terrain. When his company was stopped by the concentration of fire from several machine gun emplacements, he crawled to one position and destroyed it, killing three Germans. Continuing forward, he attacked and enemy observation post and killed two occupants. With the aid of one of his men, Lieutenant Baker attacked two more machine gun nests, killing or wounding the four enemy soldiers occupying these positions. He then covered the evacuation of the wounded personnel of his company by occupying an exposed position and drawing the enemy's fire. On the following night Lieutenant Baker voluntarily led a battalion advance through enemy mine fields and heavy fire toward the division objective. Second Lieutenant Baker's fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.

That's the citation for Vernon Baker, of the all-black 370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division (for those of you paying attention, note the inclusion of the Japanese-American (and at least one Korean-American) 442nd Infantry).

One would expect even as monolithic a beauracracy as the Department of Veterans Affairs to cut a guy like this some slack. Especially where he had to wait over 50 years to be awarded the Medal, and is the only living black Medal of Honor recipient who served in World War II.

Nope (via Army Times, by way of Schadenfreude):

Baker, purportedly the only living black Medal of Honor winner from World War II, needed emergency surgery in September to remove a malignant tumor from his brain.

Healthy for much of his life, the Idaho resident had overlooked the need to enroll for Veterans Affairs and Medicare benefits. When his medical bills arrived, Baker and his wife were surprised to learn the government did not intend to help pay them.

[ . . . ] Residents of St. Maries, Idaho, are organizing a fund-raiser to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills Baker already owes.

Neighbor Marilyn Fletcher is organizing the March 19 fund-raiser.

The government's response had been (via Seattle P-I:

Patients must enroll with the Veterans Administration to receive benefits, and cannot be reimbursed for costs incurred prior to their enrollment, said Roxanne Sisemore, spokeswoman for the VA in Walla Walla. And while some Medicare coverage kicks in automatically when a person reaches retirement age, coverage to pay doctors' bills also requires enrollment, said Peter Ashkenaz, a Medicare spokesman in Washington, D.C.

I daresay the VA is falling short of its goal (via VA):

Our goal is to provide excellence in patient care, veterans' benefits and customer satisfaction. We have reformed our department internally and are striving for high quality, prompt and seamless service to veterans. Our department's employees continue to offer their dedication and commitment to help veterans get the services they have earned. Our nation's veterans deserve no less.

Uh-huh.


Posted 5:58 PM by Tony

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Ribbon Of Shame

The Wall Street Journal has its eye on California gerrymandering, using as an example, the so-called "ribbon of shame," also known as the 23rd Congressional District. It's kind of laughable, when one examines the geographical spread of the "local newspapers" in that district.

In this case, a picture literally is worth a thousand words (via NationalAtlas.gov):


The article notes (for a contrary view, see SF Chronicle):

The objective is to create some political competition in the Golden State, where Republicans and Democrats alike use their control of the redistricting process to protect incumbents. California lawmakers are so adept at designing their own districts that of the 153 seats--80 Assembly, 20 state Senate, 53 Congressional--theoretically up for grabs last November, not a single one switched parties.

This "is not democracy," a frustrated Governor Schwarzenegger told reporters recently. "It is a political elite building a fortress to keep the politicians in and the people out." Hence, the Governor wants Sacramento lawmakers to relinquish their power to redraw district boundaries to a nonpartisan panel of retired judges--the type of reform that has led to more competitive races is places like Iowa and Washington State.

[ . . . ]

[Commenting on the 23rd Congressional District] Its 200 miles of Pacific coastline, artfully mapped to avoid Republican-leaning interior regions, is never more that five miles wide and in some places narrows to the length of a football field. The Sacramento Bee editorialized last month that Ms. Capps's district "is so narrow in spots that a big tide could submerge it."

Republicans are no different. The 15th state Senate District, running from Silicon Valley in the north down to Santa Maria, where Michael Jackson is on trial, "resembles Chile," says Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution political scientist who worked for former Governor Pete Wilson. "It was created at the behest of former Republican Senate Leader Jim Brulte, who got it carved out so that there were more Republican voters than Democrat," says Mr. Whalen. "So it works both ways."

These gerrymanders also happen to make a complete mockery of state law. The California constitution's reapportionment guidelines say, "The geographical integrity of any city, county, or city and county, or of any geographical region shall be respected to the extent possible." That would seem to dictate compactly drawn districts, yet 19 Members of Congress currently represent bits of a single region--Los Angeles County--for reasons of political self-preservation.

An egregious local example is state Senate District 3, represented by Carole Migden (map via California Senate):


As you can see District 3 encompasses Marin and Sonoma counties, and then jumps across the water to claim the eastern half of San Francisco. I'd love to hear how this conforms with Article 21 of the California Constitution.


Posted 11:38 AM by Tony

Thursday, March 10, 2005
A Fatwa Against Bin Laden

Looks like a fatwa against Osama bin Laden has been issued in Spain (via SF Chronicle):

Muslim clerics in Spain issued what they called the world's first fatwa, or Islamic edict, against Osama bin Laden on Thursday, the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, calling him an apostate and urging others of their faith to denounce the al-Qaida leader.

The ruling was issued by the Islamic Commission of Spain, the main body representing the country's 1 million-member Muslim community. The commission represents 200 or so mostly Sunni mosques, or about 70 percent of all mosques in Spain.

[ . . . ]

Asked if the edict meant Muslims had to help police try to arrest the world's most wanted man — who is believed to be hiding along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan — [Commission secretary general Mansur] Escudero said: "We don't get involved in police affairs but we do feel that all Muslims are obliged to ... keep anyone from doing unjustified damage to other people."

The last paragraph takes some of the impact of the fatwa away. Nevertheless, if the article is correct, and this is the "world's first fatwa" against bin Laden, I have a question:

Why hasn't there been a fatwa issued against bin Laden by American Muslim clerics, three and a half years after 9/11?

I'd love to hear an answer to this.


Posted 5:24 PM by Tony


The Passage Of Time

NKZone points out (via Flying Yangban) an interview of Unification Minister Chong Dong-Young in OhMyNews, in which he states:

When we're able to overcome these issues, the inter-Korean relationship can be built upon a rock. Wind can always blow, and it could get cloudy or foggy. In this situation, we must not waver and move beyond reconciliation and cooperation to co-existence and co-prosperity, and with this in mind, the recent period could be positively viewed as a time of tempering.

To speak once again of the defector issue, the government clearly opposes organized defections. For the people in the North to live their lives in the North with their families is necessary both for individuals and for co-existence and co-prosperity. The policies of reconciliation and cooperation call for humanitarian aid to the North along with strengthening of economic cooperation, and continuous pursuit of North Korea's participation in the international community.

This policy is clearly diametrically opposed to any intention to absorb the North or make it collapse. To stress this clearly one more time, we don't want North Korea to collapse. With this in mind, it is not desirable for anyone to organize defections, intentionally bringing people out of North Korea. In particular, this runs counter to the government's policy of co-existence and co-prosperity.

[emphasis added]

An interesting set of priorities, to say the least - sucking up to North Korea takes precedence over assisting their "brethren" escape a totalitarian regime. I'd say that this was jaw-droppingly stupid, but then again, I'm not surprised, given Chong's previous effort to export high-technology equipment to North Korea, and the mind-numbingly dumb comments of his predecessor, Jeong Se-hyun, who has compared political freedom for North Koreans as similar to pearls to a pig (see his greatest hits, here. I tend to think of the both of them as Seoul's answer to Baghdad Bob.

I wonder if Professor Chang would like to revisit his December 30 column in the Korea Times on the North Korea Human Rights Act:

To be specific, Section 302 of the act attempts "to ensure that North Koreans are not barred from eligibility for refugee status or asylum in the United States on account of any legal right to citizenship they may enjoy under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea."

In plain English, this statement appears to mean that North Koreans will be allowed to seek political asylum in the U.S. regardless of whether they are welcome in South Korea.

Realizing that the act is clearly stepping on the authority of South Korea, Section 2 tries to clarify to no avail by making two strange and potentially conflicting statements. One is that "It is not intended in any way to prejudice whatever rights to citizenship North Koreans may enjoy under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea'' and the other is that "a national of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea shall not be considered a national of the Republic of Korea."

The act may make some sense if South Korea refuses to accept North Korean defectors.

To the contrary, South Korea has done an excellent job in welcoming defectors from North Korea and has never refused to accept an honest defector from the North.

Let's leave aside the professor's erroneous statement of "the act is clearly stepping on the authority of North Korea," though it's unclear to me how the offer of asylum by the United States, which does not forbid or command the ROK, steps on the ROK's authority.

I'm more interested in, "[t]he act may make some sense if South Korea refuses to accept North Korean defectors."

Given that the official position of the South Korean government is to oppose organized defections, does that mean Professor Chang will change his mind?


Posted 5:10 PM by Tony


The Groves Of Private Academia

It seems to me that private colleges and universities seem to cultivate pretentiousness. I offer you two recent examples.

Example No. 1

You'll remember that Harvard president Lawrence Summers was recently involved in a kerfluffle involving remarks taken out of context (you can check out the transcript at the Harvard web site). A couple weeks ago, actress Jada Pinkett Smith was honored at Harvard. (via The Harvard Crimson:

Pinkett Smith, who hosted the first show Saturday afternoon, was honored as the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relation’s “Artist of the Year.” The Foundation has sponsored the show for its 20-year run.

[ . . . ]

She told the audience about her childhood with teenage parents both addicted to heroin, but triumphantly exclaimed, “I can stand here on this stage and say that I’ve proven them all wrong.”

She then addressed issues regarding the roles of men and women today.

“Women, you can have it all—a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career,” she said. “They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want. All you have to do is want it.”

“To my men, open your mind, open your eyes to new ideas. Be open,” she added.

Prompting the following response (via The Harvard Crimson:

BGLTSA Co-Chair Jordan B. Woods ’06 said that, while many BGLTSA members thought Pinkett Smith’s speech was “motivational,” some were insulted because they thought she narrowly defined the roles of men and women in relationships.

“Some of the content was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA members feel uncomfortable,” he said.

Calling the comments heteronormative, according to Woods, means they implied that standard sexual relationships are only between males and females.

“Our position is that the comments weren’t homophobic, but the content was specific to male-female relationships,” Woods said.

"Heteronormative"? No kidding that "the content was specific to male-female relationships," given that it was based upon Pinkett Smith's own experience. Sheesh.

Example No. 2

Nancy Bekavac, president of Scripps College (one of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, gets worked up about ROTC in the LA Times. As a early 1990s graduate of a Claremont College, the article caught my interest (see also Local Liberty).

Frankly, I'm not sure what her point is. First, she sets the stage, with an idyllic portrait of a morning in Claremont:

Every morning at sunrise, I walk my large mixed-breed dogs through my small college town. There's a dreamlike quality to most mornings, and not just because I walk before I have coffee. I've gotten to know my neighbors' gardens and trees. Sometimes I pick the route for specific reasons. One recent day, it was for the flowering cherry that had just opened up, and the last of the crab apple blossoms. The dogs were snuffling in the ivy when I heard a group of strong young voices calling out a marching cadence.

Suddenly, the Land of the Morning Calm (so to speak) is shattered:

There's an ROTC unit at the colleges. As I walked south, they came toward me, running in formation on the street, three or four abreast, mostly short-haired men, but there were some women with pony tails. They wore gray "ARMY" T-shirts, black shorts and orange web belts. The lead officer, a chesty 40-year-old, responded to my "Hello," and he and the group ran in place to let me and the dogs cross in front of them. As they passed behind me, a woman's voice called out the next verse, and then they all repeated it:

If I die in a combat zone,

put me in a box and ship me home.

President Bekavac is shocked that college students are singing that particular cadence, when they are unfamiliar with death:

My walk went on, toward the bakery and my morning circle of friends, coffee and gossip. Behind me, those shining young people, beautiful in their strength and sure in their purpose, were being molded to defend me — to defend us. Surely, I want none of them harmed — no boxes, no medals, no weeping mothers. But surely I want to be secure, to have all of this protected. If I will that end, must I will that means? It is no answer to say those young people "volunteered" — what do they know about alternatives? What other way can they afford their expensive colleges? How else can they feel they are serving their country?

There's several issues here that I want to point out. First, the business about "[i]f I will that end, must I will that means?" Not necessarily. However, to take the option of force off the table strikes me as a cop-out. Bekavac's point seems to be, "I want my way of life protected, as long as I'm not made uncomfortable by how it's done." Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but perhaps I'm not.

Next, what strikes me as odd is "[w]hat other way can they afford their expensive colleges?" It occurs to me that, given the selectiveness of the Claremont Colleges, students who chose to go there also chose ROTC when they could have very well gone to a school that's less expensive and just as reputable. Also, it strikes me as very odd that she's asking this question, given that part of her responsibilities as a college president is to ensure that students who may need financial aid are aware of the options. If she's so concerned about those "shining young people," she's surely in a position to do something about it, such as, you know, lowering tuition.

Another source of amusement is the implied distaste of ROTC as an option, as shown by her question, "How else can they feel they are serving their country?" If only there were some other option, surely students would take that instead! Now, I've never been in ROTC or the military, but it strikes me that the choice to join ROTC is multifactorial, that economic reasons are not the only reason to do this. Well, for the women, anyways, what with Scripps being a women's college.

Finally, she concludes with:

This is a very pleasant small town. Once they ran past me, there was no mark that those young soldiers had been there. It would be pleasant to put them out of my mind, to put all that is going on in our name out of my mind, as we do every day. It would be pleasant and wrong.

Note again the distaste to ROTC, the implication that ROTC ruins her "very pleasant small town."

This bit is consistent with my own memories of the Colleges. At the time, there was a strong movement to kick ROTC off-campus, in light of the "Don't ask, don't tell" concerning gays in the military. One of the Colleges, Pitzer, kicked ROTC off campus in April of 1990, which is still in force today. Bekavac should be familiar with this, since it happened only shortly before she became president of Scipps.

Perhaps I'm off here, but the whole piece whiffs of elitism.


Posted 6:51 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Eat An Animal For PETA Day

Instapundit notes that it's Eat An Animal For PETA Day. This day is rooted in what is perhaps one of PETA's most contemptible ad campaigns - the equation of meat production with the slaughter of 12 million in the Holocaust:


Even more offensive is the accompanying television ad (via Wayback Machine cache of PETA page).

No number of naked chicks in body paint is going to counterbalance the above, I'm afraid.


Posted 8:19 AM by Tony

Monday, March 07, 2005
Consistencies

The LA Times notes the funeral of Italian officer Nicola Capari, who was killed by US troops:

Calipari, 50, was killed by a single bullet to the head when he used his body to shield the newly freed hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

Their car came under U.S. Army fire Friday night along a notoriously dangerous road to the Baghdad airport, where they were traveling shortly after Sgrena was freed from Iraqi insurgents, who held her for a month.

The U.S. military said the Italians were speeding toward a checkpoint and ignored warnings to stop.

From a hospital bed since her return to Rome on Saturday, however, Sgrena has consistently disputed the U.S. version of events. She said the car was not speeding, they were not near a checkpoint, and they did not see warning signals.

[emphasis added]

Sure. Instapundit points to Sgrena's own account of events at CNN, which seems at odds with Sgrena's "consistent[]" disputation:

The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell. Nicola Calipari sat next to me. The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops. They told me that we were less than a kilometer away...when...I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier.

A few questions come to mind:

1. Sgrena's assertion that the car was not speeding seems at odds with her account of "almost losing control to avoid "an underpass full of puddles."

2. Sgrena's assertion that they were not near a checkpoint or did not see any warning signals seems at odds with her account that she knew the airport "was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops," and that she "was less than a kilometer away." At the very least, the occupants of the vehicle, including Capari, should have been aware that they would be approaching manned checkpoints.

3. Why did the occupants of the vehicle not contact US forces directly, rather than relying on the embassy to relay messages to US forces, with attendant delays as the word filtered down? Alternatively, why did they not go to the Italian embassy instead?

The whole affair seems a bit curious. I agree with Sgrena that an investigation is required, but that investigation should also thoroughly examine what both the Italians and Americans were doing.


Posted 5:23 PM by Tony

Friday, March 04, 2005
Jaw-Dropping Diversion Of The Day

Grace Park, from Battlestar Galactica, in Maxim.

Whoa.


Posted 6:12 AM by Tony

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Follow The Hot Women

I had two major influences in becoming a economic/foreign policy (not social - let's not get them confused) conservative. The first were my teachers, who fled Hungary when the 1956 Hungarian uprising. The second was PJ O'Rourke.

In one of his books, Parliament of Whores, O'Rourke writes about a peculiar political phenomenon (found via Google at Number 2 Pencil):

"Best of all, there were hardly any beautiful women at the [Housing Now!] rally. I saw a journalist friend of mine in the Mall, and he and I purused this line of inquiry as assiduously as our happy private lives allow. Practically every female at the march was a bowser. "We're not being sexist here," my friend insisted. "It's not that looks matter per se. It's just that beautiful women are always on the cutting edge of social trends. Remember how many beautiful women were in the anti-war movement twenty years ago? In the yoga classes fifteen years ago? At the discos ten years ago? On Wall Street five years ago? Where the beautiful women are is where the country is headed," said my friend. "And this," he looked around him, "isn't it."

I couldn't help but think of that when looking at these two posts relating to anti-Syria demonstrations in Lebanon.

And if you want to see where the political trends are not going, come out here to the Bay Area.*
-----
* Yes, I know, cheap shot. I blame having to sit through years of demonstrations and assorted mindless stupidity while living in San Francisco.


Posted 8:39 AM by Tony


Market Penetration

There's a British car show called Top Gear. In one episode, the Cadillac Escalade was subjected to nonstop mockery. The consensus was that the only people who would drive the vehicle are those who want the "bling," and don't care that they're buying a crap car with really low gas mileage.

I believe that's called consumer resistance.

As a result, I'm a little unsure that Cadillac's confidence in penetrating the European car market is justified (via NY Times):

Cadillac, a unit of General Motors, and the Dodge unit of DaimlerChrysler unveiled new cars at the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday that they hope will lead a fresh push into the European market.

[ . . . ]

Cadillac sold 1,500 cars outside North America last year, also less than 5 percent of its total. [Cadillac general manager James] Taylor, who says Cadillac must be a global brand, is aiming to increase that to 20,000 by 2010.

As they ready their product campaigns, however, the carmakers are taking sharply different approaches to the European market. Cadillac's strategy is to appeal to drivers here on their own terms - with a car that, in scale at least, could have been built by a European company.

Indeed, the Cadillac BLS, as the new model is known, will be built in Sweden, at the assembly plant of Saab, another General Motors subsidiary. The BLS will share the same platform as the Saab 9-3, and producing it there will help fill what has been an underused factory.

The BLS, which will go on sale here in the spring of 2006, is six inches shorter than Cadillac's current entry-level model, the CTS. It will be available with a diesel engine, the first Cadillac has ever sold. The BLS is so suited to European tastes, in fact, that it will not even be sold in the United States.

"There's no Cadillac guy in the U.S. who is going to buy a four-cylinder low-displacement engine," Mr. Taylor said, using industry shorthand for the BLS's lower-powered engine.

This should be interesting.


Posted 8:23 AM by Tony


Bill Gates, KBE?

Apparently, the queen of England knighted Bill Gates (via CNN):

One of the world's richest men, Gates, 49, was being honored in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace for his charitable activities around the world and his contribution to high-tech enterprise in Britain.

[ . . . ]

Gates' royal honor -- bestowed by the queen on the advice of the government -- was announced in January 2004, but a "mutually convenient" date to receive it had not been available until now.

British recipients of knighthoods are entitled to be addressed with a "Sir" before their names. The honor was long the preserve of senior soldiers, judges and other servants of the state, but recent years have seen the creation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Elton John.

According to Reuters, the ceremony involves the queen tapping him on the shoulders with a sword.

I'm thinking she's never had problems with Windows crashing her computer - else, she'd be sorely tempted to run him through.


Posted 8:14 AM by Tony


An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at orblog-at-yahoo.com.

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